For all the controversy that surrounds him, Kyrie Irving is still an excellent basketball player. In his latest game against the Charlotte Hornets, he showed everyone why Brooklyn Nets fans suddenly appeared out of existence when he and Kevin Durant decided to take their talents to the Barclays Center.
It is probably the finest game of his career, and one that set the league ablaze because of how insane his performance was. He finished the contest with 50 points, three rebounds, six assists, a steal, a block, and three turnovers.
While that performance is already worth noting, it’s even more important to point out that he did all of this while only taking 19 shots. He made 15 of 19 overall, 9 of 12 from three, and 11 of 13 free throws. That made him an analytical anomaly, as he finished with a true shooting percentage of 101.3%. He also joined a pretty exclusive list of guards with multiple 50-point games on 75% shooting that include him and the ‘Ghost that played in Chicago’.
Watching Irving do this away from home is another example of why the Nets and even the NBA are now on a full-pitched battle with the city of New York to allow Irving play basketball. Though they initially didn’t even want him to play this season as a part-time player, a Covid-19 outbreak and other ailments necessitated his return.
Now, with the playoffs looming, James Harden gone, and Ben Simmons yet to suit up, and the Nets falling from first all the way to eighth place with a 33-33 record, the Nets are desperate. They know they can’t win a title without Irving being involved, no matter how good Durant is. With the Eastern Conference in the midst of historically competitive season, there are no easy ways for the Nets to even avoid the play-ins.
The whole part-time situation still needs resolving, but today was a stark reminder that when he wants to be, Irving is one of the league’s elite players. Whether or not he’ll be around enough to help the Nets with their title dreams is another story. Let’s see how the situation develops.
Irving’s next game will be against the Philadelphia 76ers this Friday morning (Manila Time) and he’ll be taking on former teammate James Harden, who he was rumored to not have the greatest relationship with. That game should have some fireworks, considering how well the Sixers have played with Harden on the floor. Simmons will apparently also be on the bench that game, so let’s see if the Australian gets as many boos in Philly as Irving does in Boston.